Arnold the grammarian

A tribute to a Journal reader who loved the way words can sing – but not always in my case


By Jason Gay | The Wall Street Journal

The best part of this job? That’s easy: readers. Some days, readers like me; other days, they can’t stand me; sometimes, they want me to quit the business and get a job knitting hand puppets.

Related: He’s baaaaaaaack!

It’s all fair. I’ve been doing this for a long while, at a lot of different publications, and I know what it’s like to have nobody read what I’m doing. That anyone would take a moment to read my column feels like a blessing, for which I’m grateful.

For instance: Arnold Tenenbaum. A kindhearted gentleman from Savannah, Ga., who liked brightly patterned shirts and funky sunglasses, Arnold was the patriarch of an eccentric Southern family I’d known since I’d met Arnold and his wife Lorlee’s youngest daughter, Ali, while in college.

To know the Tenenbaums was to want to be one; it’s why a pair of family friends, Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson, borrowed the name when they wrote the screenplay for “The Royal Tenenbaums.”

Arnold seemed to catch everything. He had an appreciation for the way words were supposed to be.


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